I trust you, too, have sat in front of TV screen or computer monitor, or best case scnario, high above the 50 yard line at the Horseshow Stadium and watched with mouth agape as the Ohio State Marching Band has reinvented the half-time show. I mean...what on astroturf? What on artificial grass is happening down there? Because from where I sit, it ain't your pro-forma conga line of tubas playing their cheeks off to "Hang on Sloopy."
Last week it was Michael Jackson moonwalking.
This week it was Superman, Harry Potter taking flight and a freaking T-Rex going all prehistoric predator on some poor bando.
Total insanity under a chin-strapped hat is what that is.
And I could go on about all the other great things to come out of Ohio, like Thomas Edison and Mead notebooks and the word "treelawn." But I am thinking today less as a native Ohioan and more as a journalist. How are they doing that? How are they doing things that only the Chinese can do at the Olympics opening games? Is it a computer software that figures this out? And why is this hokey art form suddenly elevated, like the Cirque du Soleil of marching bands?
Does anybody care? Because everyone from the Today Show to the L.A. Times is just sort of standing aghast at this performance art on a football field. Like, Oh hey, did you see this? Because if not, here's the Youtube. We're going to take a break from asking questions and just stand awestruck for a minute and wonder what is going to come out of Columbus, Ohio next week.
There is plenty of room in this world for real spectacle, for technical marvels that require such precision, such calculation it's unfathomable.
As someone with a penchant for spontaneity, though, these art forms, these technical marvels are so beyond my realm of comprehension. I can barely make it to work on time 5 days a week IN A ROW. I cannot think about making sure I am standing at the right 45 degree angle in a stiff polyester uniform while holding up my trombone just so and piping out the appointed note in alignment with a whole fleet of people doing the same.
This is what is most marvelous to me about the Ohio State marching band: they can't see what we see. The musicians know their marching orders, and that is all. The artists don't hear what we hear, they don't see what we see. They don't see the canvas as they are painting it. They only know that if they follow these directions, and they trust that if everybody else does, their formation will astound. All the while, they are keeping the beat, marching in place, now moving this way, now making a scatter plot of people to obscure the formation and now, BOOM, is that Clark Kent changing in a phone booth? Un.Be.Liev.Able.
So goes the call to obedience. We don't know at any moment why we are given certain orders. We don't know why we are told to move clear across the field. We don't understand why it appears everyone else is moving forward and we are the ones just looking the fool, tooting our flute to the beat, marching in one place. We can't see the big picture, we can't step out of our lives and see this whole band marching in one accord.
Rare are the moments when we feel we are apart of something larger than ourselves. Even rarer are the moments when we hear the whoops and cheers from the stands, OMG THIS IS CRAY CRAY! But those moments somehow make following those marching orders, all those rehearsals, all that sweat equity so so worth it. Am I right?